Mélange du Mercredi: War in Cities; How to Treat the Disease without Killing the Patient

Welcome to Mélange du Mercredi (Wednesday Mix). Each week, we highlight one of the latest and greatest in reading, film and other scholarly resources, focusing on a variety of issues pertaining to international humanitarian law. Recently ICRC's Humanitarian Law & Policy Blog published an analysis by Editor Vincent Bernard on the key rules of IHL that can provide critical guidance in the preparation of future urban operations. It also explores the main challenges in the application of these rules.

Here's a preview:

Fighting in cities today causes immense suffering, massive displacement and enormous reconstruction costs. How can devastation on this scale be avoided in the future? Drawing on the recent issue of the Review and ongoing ICRC’s Conference Cycle on War in Cities, the author suggests that armed actors should learn from past and present battles in cities. He presents key rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) critical to providing guidance in the preparation of future urban operations and explores the main challenges in the application of these rules.

A scene of devastation, blanketed with grey dust, stretches into the distance in eerie silence. Walls riddled with bullets, buildings collapsing in on themselves, external walls blown away to reveal an intimate view of a bedroom or living room, streets blocked by piles of rubble.

These sickening images of destruction—filmed from above by drones and shared on social media—probably best symbolize the current resurgence in urban warfare.

Other images come to mind: bombed-out hospitals, children being pulled from wreckage, forcible evacuation. Not everyone can or wants to flee. For those who remain, life often becomes extremely dangerous and precarious when the complex fabric of urban services disintegrates: power, water and food supplies are cut off, leading to isolation, cold, darkness, illness and anxiety about what tomorrow may bring. As schools, businesses and shops close, people’s future prospects disappear. Bombs—through negligence, error or criminal intent—strike people and the infrastructure they need to survive.

To see the full article, go here.


As always, if you have suggestions, or would like to submit a post on something you feel our readers will also enjoy, we're happy to include them. Just email Editor Niki Clark